Wednesday, June 1, 2005

The Arizona Counter-Recruitment Coalition Wants YOU

by the Arizona Counter-Recruitment Coalition (printed in Upheaval #1)

You have fewer civil rights enlisted in the military than you do in prison. As a detainee, you have the right to test the legality of your detention as many times as you want – but once you’ve enlisted, you have no legal right to contest your situation. One-third of homeless men are veterans. Many veterans are ill with Gulf War Syndrome.

Myths told by military recruiters lead teens to exchange their lives and civil liberties for promises of college funds, travel and adventure. Here lies the military’s Achilles heel – if they were given enough information about the truth of enlistment, most people would never join the military.

The Arizona Counter-Recruitment Coalition
The Arizona Counter-Recruitment Coalition (AZCRC) is a group of students, teachers, parents, veterans, and workers from the Phoenix metro area who provide information and perspectives to counterbalance the one-sidedness of military recruiters. We advocate for a society that is truly secure, through the principles of cooperation, conflict resolution, and sustainability. We organize to replace the current order of exploitation, conquest, and domination. We recognize the need to work with other like-minded organizations, while exploring ways to connect with those who may initially be opposed to our motives.

Problems
In the struggle for control over a young person’s life, the military has the upper hand. Military recruiters have access to a student's personal information from their school, and they use this information to target the poor, minorities, the young and na├»ve.

They lie and mislead to meet enlistment quotas. Further, they’re about to be delivered the ultimate advantage: conscription, i.e. a draft, which will mandate involuntary servitude and provide the military with a demographic database on an entire generation. After enlisting, or being drafted, personal autonomy is lost. Instead, it becomes mandatory to kill and be killed if ordered to do so, and to serve the interests of corporate elites who value money and power over humanity and life itself.
Enlistees who are not killed are likely to be maimed and sustain lasting damage to their physical and mental health. Veterans of war in Iraq have a special name for their diseases: Gulf War Syndrome. This may be caused by forced inoculations, and/or exposure to depleted uranium, which has devastating effects on soldiers, the environment, and the innocent civilians who live in these war zones.

The lives of military personnel and the human rights of those who live within US military targets are sacrificed to keep the world in a stranglehold of US economic hegemony. Upon returning, soldiers often bring home the violent culture of war, beating and sometimes killing their spouses and kids, and suffering the anguish of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Solutions
Students, parents, and teachers must reclaim control of their schools from the military and work to inform people about the dangers of militarism. We want to empower parents who wish to invoke their legal right to withhold their child’s contact information from the military. We are reaching out to students with flyers and presentations, informing them of their rights, and helping students create counter-recruitment clubs on-campus.

We are continuously seeking teachers and administrators who see a need to provide a broader and unbiased examination of the military, past and present, in the world and in their schools. We believe that the students’ best interests are served when educators teach them to use critical thinking when presented with the slick marketing campaign that recruiters use to attract possible recruits.
Lastly, we demand that school administrations provide us with equal time and space to present our point of view at assemblies and job fairs, and to place our alternative literature in career counseling centers.

Alternatives
Security: We believe our society will never be truly secure so long as we enjoy a much higher level of consumption than the rest of the world, based on military conquest and exploitation of the poor and the environment. Only when all people are recognized as free and equal, with access to affordable education and adequate resources to meet their basic needs, in ways that preserve a heritage of natural resources for future generations, can we live in peace and safety.

Economics: Military recruiters often target economically disadvantaged young people with promises of college money, job training, and a ticket out of their financial dead end. Not only are these promises in most cases misleading, we have found that when given enough information, most young people don’t feel that the gamble of risking their lives and long-term physical/mental health is worth the possible benefits. However, we must acknowledge the lack of local sustainable community-based economic opportunities that can make “three hots and a cot” in a battle zone seem tempting.
If we want to build an effective movement to oppose the militarization of society, we need to seek out, support, and even create more job opportunities that are truly productive, locally owned and locally controlled, so that the money generated stays in our community. We also need to help young people get access to alternative sources of college money and job training if we wish to successfully challenge the “poverty draft.”

Goals:
-Decentralized networking of counter-recruitment groups, including on-campus student groups who are working to stop military recruitment
-Building draft resistance through education and networking
-A network of support for veterans – one that acknowledges their situation and illnesses due to service
-The repeal of school policies such as the No Child Left Behind Act and ASVAB testing, as well as the replacement of JROTC programs with electives.

Tactics:
-Distributing counter-recruitment literature to those who are targeted by military recruiters
-Speaking at and organizing community events where people can meet other like-minded individuals interested in military and draft resistance
-Speaking and tabling at events where our perspectives would otherwise be unheard.
-Demonstrating in the streets to show our frustration and opposition and to bring pressure on those who support war and recruitment.

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